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Frog of the Week

Black Eyed Tree Frog (Agalychnis moreletii)

photo by  Sean Michael Rovito

Common Name: Black Eyed Tree Frog, Morelet’s Treefrog, or Black Eyed Leaf Frog
Scientific Name: Agalychnis moreletii
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog Family
Locations: Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico
Size: females around 2.5 inches (64.2 mm), males around 2.3 inches (58.6 mm)

The Blacked Eyed Tree Frog is the less popular cousin of the Red Eyed Tree Frog. Like the Red Eyed Tree Frog, they are nocturnal, spending the day hiding on leaves off trees. The frogs can be found in the pet trade but most of them are wild caught. Buying wild caught frogs is wrong in my opinion. The species epithet moreletii is in honor of french naturalist and illustrator Pierre Marie Arthur Morelet. Morelet didn’t study frogs, he was actually really interested in mollusks.

During the rainy season, the males of the species will start to call on elevated areas around pools, lakes, and streams. The female frog will select a mate and the two will embrace in amplexus. The female will lay her eggs on rocks and leaves over hanging water and the male will fertilize them. The female lays between 50 to 70 eggs. Once the tadpoles hatch in 5 to 10 days, they fall right into the water to finish their metamorphosis. This stage of the metamorphosis takes around 55 days.

While the International Union of the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List only lists the Black Eyed Tree Frog as Least Conservation of becoming extinct, the species is in trouble. It was formerly listed as Critically Endangered in 2004 due to Chytrid Fungus wiping out populations in Mexico. It was predicted the fungus would eliminate populations in other countries. So far, the disease hasn’t done that. The habitat of the frogs are fragmented and are endangered due to habitat destruction for farms and cities.

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Frog of the Week

Green and Golden Bell Frog (Litoria aurea)

photo by LiquidGhoul

Common Name: Green and Golden Bell Frog
Scientific Name: Litoria aurea
Family: Hylidae – True Frog family
Locations: Australia
Introduced Locations: New Caledonia, New Zealand, and Vanuatu
Male Size: 2.2 – 2.7 inches (57 – 69 mm)
Female Size: 2.5 – 4.2 inches (65 – 108 mm)

While the Green and Golden Bell Frog is a member of the tree frog family, they are a semi-aquatic species of frog. They like to perch on vegetation around water. The frogs breed during summer time from October through March. Reproduction is pretty standard for these fellas. The males will call from the water and the female will select a mate. Then the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus position and she will lay her eggs. The female frog lays between 3 – 10 thousand eggs. The male will then fertilize the eggs. Neither parent provides any care for their offspring.

The Green and Golden Bell Frog is naturally found along the southeastern coast of Australia but has expanded its range to other Pacific Islands including New Zealand. In New Zealand, they are found on the northern half of North Island. It’s hard to tell if these frogs are causing any problems in these new habitats.

The Green and Golden Bell Frog is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. The frogs face a variety of threats. The wetlands that the frogs live in are being drained to make room for more houses. The Mosquito Fish (Gambusia holbrooki) has been introduced to the wetlands as well to control mosquito populations. Sadly, these fish also feed on tadpoles of frogs. Also Red Foxes (Vulpes vulpes) has been introduced to Australia and they can feed on adult frogs. Chytrid Fungus, a deadly fungal pathogen that is devasting frog populations around the world, has been found in the frogs. This is likely causing some declines in the species.

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Smooth Newt (Lissotriton vulgaris)

photo by John Beniston

Common Name: Smooth Newt
Scientific Name: Lissotriton vulgaris
Family: Salamandridae
Locations: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, and United Kingdom
Introduced Locations Australia
Size: 3.9 inches (10 cm)

The Smooth Newt is one of the most common amphibians found throughout temperate, forest areas in Europe. They are mostly terrestrial, only staying in water for extended periods of time during breeding season. They are also nocturnal, spending their days under logs and rocks. The newts do come out during rains during the day.

The Smooth Newt reproduces after the newt wake up from hibernation. The males and females move to ponds to breed. The males will grow out a wavy crest on their back to impress the females. The male will do a courtship dance to attract females. The males will deposit a sperm packet in the water and will lead a female over it during the courtship. The female will pick it up with her cloaca and bring it inside her to fertilize her eggs. A few days layer, the female will lay her eggs, as many as 300. Eggs hatch a few weeks later and larvae will appear. The larvae take a few months to complete their metamorphism, but some individuals may take over a year. These individuals will then have to survive in the water over winter.

In Australia, the Smooth Newt has established populations in the wild. It is believed the newts were released into the wild from a pet owner who didn’t want them anymore. Never do that please. Currently, it is not known if the newt is causing any serious environmental problems so the Australian Government isn’t actively trying to prevent their spread or eliminate them.

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Dixie Valley Toad (Anaxyrus williamsi)

photo by Kris Urquhart/USFWS

Common Name: Dixie Valley Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus williamsi
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: United States – Nevada
Size: 2 inches (50.8 mm)

The Dixie Valley Toad is a relatively new species, only being described in 2017. Before, it was considered an isolated population of the Western Toad (Anaxyrus boreas). Physical and genetic tests revealed that it was in fact, its own species. Dixie Valley Toad is physically different than the Western Toad. They have gold specks on its body and is smaller than the Western Toad.

Most life history of the Dixie Valley Toad is presumed to be similar to the Western Toad. They are a nocturnal species, living under rocks or burrowed in the dirt during the day. Reproduction is external. The males will call to attract females. Once the female selects a male, the male will grasp the female from behind. The female will then lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them. No parental care has been shown.

While only just described, the toad is already a candidate for the Endangered Species List. The exact number of toads are unknown but their range is small. Their habitat is already threatened by a geothermal energy plant that has plans to go up right next to it.

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Brazilian Torrent Frog (Hylodes asper)

Common Name: Brazilian Torrent Frog
Scientific Name: Hylodes asper
Family: Hylodidae
Locations: Brazil
Size: 1.57 inches (40 mm)

The Brazilian Torrent Frog has one of the most sophisticated form of communication for a frog. The male of the species will pick a mating spot, high on rocks next to a busy stream. They will try to make mating or territorial calls but the stream is very loud behind them, drowning out their calls. The frogs have adapted a way to talk to the frogs over the sounds on the stream. The male frogs will raise their feet in a circular movement and show off their white toe pads. This is called foot flagging.

The males will do it to attract females and to warn other males to leave. If the other males don’t leave, they will fight it out for the spot with the loser hopping away. If a predator was to see the foot flagging and come after the male frog, the male will jump into the stream. This is a really quick getaway.

If a female picks a male to mate with, they will approach the male. The male will continue to call. The female will then stretch one or both of her legs backwards and move one hand up and down. The male will then touch her snout with his throat. Next to male will jump around the rocks and perform more foot flagging. He then jumps into the water followed by the female.

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Chile Mountains False Toad (Telmatobufo venustus)

photo by wikiuser Cipsdesign 
Conservation status is Endangered

Common Name: Chile Mountains False Toad
Scientific Name: Telmatobufo venustus
Family: Calyptocephalellidae
Locations: Chile
Size: 2.8 inches (71 mm)

The Chile Mountains False Toad gets its name from its large, oval paratoid glands that make it look like a toad. They are found along the western slopes of the Chilean Andes, living up to a mile ( 1,700 metres) above sea level. There are only three known locations of the frogs. The frogs are found along rocks surrounding streams.

The Chile Mountains False Toad is listed as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Much of its habitat has been converted into pine and eucalyptus plantations. Electric dams have been built in parts that haven’t been converted. Also trouts have been introduced into water bodies that the frogs live in. These trouts eat the frogs and their tadpoles. The only stable populations of the frog are found in the Altos de Lircay National Reserve. Better protection of the frog and their habitat is needed to save them.

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International Polar Bear Day

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Today is International Polar Bear Day! The Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) is one of the largest species of bears, capable of weighing over 1500 pounds and standing over 9 feet tall. Sadly, they are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. While Polar Bear numbers have increased due to proper hunting regulations on the species, other problems are arising.

Polar Bears spend their winter and spring on the ice sheets hunting for seals to eat. They try to eat enough food to build up fat reserves to survive the winter months when they have to move to shore. Due to the rising temperatures of the arctic because of climate change, the sea ice that they hunt on is melting earlier. This causes the Polar Bear to become malnourished or die from starvation. Also, the Polar Bears are forced to swim further distances between each sheet of ice, which burns up fat reserves and causes some Polar Bears to drown. Other threats to them include pollution especially from increased drilling in the arctic.

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How to Help Stop Invasive Species

With the spread of invasive species, you have to wonder what can I do to help stop them? I will help answer this today.

Clean Your Boots / Shoes / Hiking Gear

Invasive species can hitchhike around the world on your gear and shoes. It is thought that Chytrid Fungus, a deadly disease that is killing off many frog species, is thought to have been moved around from researchers not cleaning their shoes / gear off between field trips. Cleaning off your gear and shoes can help stop invasive species. Also washing your dog off after hiking helps stop the spread of invasive species.

Clean Your Boat

Once again, invasive species, such as Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) and Eurasian Watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), can hitchhike from lake to lake on your boat. Cleaning the outside of your boat when you take it out of the water and draining all the water out is needed to help stop the spread.

Don’t Release Your Pets into the Wild

This is probably the easiest way to stop the spread of invasive species is to not release them into the wild. Some pet species, such as the Red Lion Fish (Pterois volitans) or the Burmese Python (Python bivittatus), have overtaken native populations of animals and are causing population declines. This is why it is very important to not release your pets.

Don’t Move Firewood

Invasive species, such as the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis), can hide in firewood and be transported into a new environment. Please buy firewood close to your campsites to help stop the spread.

Join an Invasive Species Removal Event

Sometimes you gotta roll up your sleeves and take the trash out yourself. Nature Centers often host invasive species removal events that you can volunteer at. They will help you learn how to identify invasive species and how to remove them properly. You can then take this knowledge with you back to your home.

Frog of the Week

Marsh Frog (Pelophylax ridibundus)

photo by Charles J Sharp

Common Name: Marsh Frog
Scientific Name: Pelophylax ridibundus
Family: Ranidae – True Frog Family
Locations: Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Islamic Republic of, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine.
Introduced Locations: Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom
Female Size: 6.7 inches (17 cm)
Male Size: 4.7 inches (12 cm)

The Marsh Frog is the largest frog native to Europe. Its found around the edges of rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams. They rarely ever move away from these shores. The frogs will start to breed at the beginning of spring. Like most frogs, the male Marsh Frogs will call to the female frogs from the shallows of the water. Once the female selects a mate, the male frog will grasp her from behind. The female will then lay her eggs and the male will then fertilize them. The female can lay between 670-13,000 eggs. Neither parent will provide any care for their offspring.

Marsh Frogs were introduced to Kent, England in the 1930s. Other populations of the frog have popped up in western London and the southwestern part of the country. Due to their size, they prey on native wildlife, potentially having problematic effects on the native populations. The frogs could also be spreading chytrid fungus, a deadly pathogen, around the country.

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Invasive Species Week

It is National Invasive Species Week! The week was created to raise awareness for the problems that invasive species create. What is an invasive species? It is a non-native living organism that has been introduced to a new environment by humans that is likely to cause economic harm, environmental harm or harm to human health. Invasive species can be fish, plants, insects, fungus, bacteria, and everything in between.

This week I will highlight invasive species that are causing problems, mostly for amphibians, here and on my social media accounts. Please stay tuned for more!